'Photography is extremely good at getting straight to the point. Perhaps too good. There is something in front of the camera; so shoot and you have an image of it. Doing it often enough may produce some gems, but thinking first is guaranteed to do it better’
began giving me helpful tips and I became excited and inspired to read and learn as much as I could about photographic techniques.
When I was 18, I got my first SLR camera and I began meeting and working with professional photographers. This was a very intense and wonderful experience; I learned a lot and was fascinated by the world of professional photography. This experience, combined with extensive reading and hours of practice, were the building blocks of my career and passion for photography. It was also my window to the world of nature and beautiful landscapes.
While I enjoyed the process, it took me many years to learn concepts that in today’s world of photography I could have (and would have like to) learned and practiced immediately.
One of my goals for this workshop is to synthesize and share my years of experience with you and give you the essence of my photographic knowledge so that you can practice it immediately.
But not only that…
In a photograph you see a result that is final part of an amazing process that begins even before you press the shutter release button. In a photo you see where the camera was pointed and what was happening in front of the camera but ever since I began taking photographs, there was another aspect of photography that caused me to reflect.
I tried to imagine what was going on behind the camera: what were the feelings and passions that drive the photographer to spend hours in a dense and humid jungle, in the cold snow or in a dry and hot desert? At that time I wondered if there was something more than technique and creativity behind a good photograph.
What was that? How can a photograph bring forth such extraordinary feelings in the observer?
Certainly there is a special inner strength, an intuition that is capable of producing fantastic results.
The question is: how can a photographer better understand and control this force? During my career better understanding this inner strength became a challenge. The first thing I realized is that it is a learning process which we requires an ability to put
our mind in tune with our surroundings. Before taking a photo, we need to create a strong connection between our mind and our surroundings. We not only must learn to see, but realize that all of our senses must be alert.
While waiting for hours to see a sunrise, a sunset or wildlife, your mind enters another frequency, your perception of time changes and you sharpen your observational skills. At a later stage of my profession, when I became a photography teacher, the new challenge became: How do I convey and release the power of that inner force when teaching photography?
Now we call it Mindful Photography and understanding it is one of the steps in taking breathless photos.
The Mindful photographer walks, observe, looks for the best angle, waits for the best light and thus does not just take a picture but feels all of the sensations of the place: the sun, the wind, the cold or heat. This photographer fulfills his purpose if he can transmit at least some of those feelings in his images.
So, the second goal of this workshop is to guide you in the practice of Mindful photography.
I look forward to a great and inspiring week and helping you reach your goals!
A Simple Guide to Practicing Mindful Travel Photography
Here are some ways to get in touch with your senses and to take more mindful photographs:
Carefully choose your photo companions: they must be photographers or al least
nature observers. Others will be a distraction and probably ruin your photography experience. Plan B: Better alone than in the wrong company!
Prepare your gear the day before: charge batteries, format your memory cards, clean you lenses, pack your bag, think about what are you going to eat and drink, take sun cream, insect repellent, a lamp, GPS, hat, rain jacket, tripod. (You will need a comfortable backpack). In this way, your are preparing your gear and your mind.
Do not feel badly for not having professional gear (many camera bodies and many lenses). You just need a camera! The mindful photographer can take good photos with a simple cellphone. The camera does not make a photographer; a good camera helps a
During the trip do not to talk too much but if you do, only about things you are seeing and will capture. This will help your concentration and will lead your mind towards creativity and perception.
Once in the place, put focus your mind in focus, observe carefully and use all your senses, hearing, smell and touch. Be in silence and thus you will stay alert.
Before taking any pictures simply observe and “set up” your mind to: Look around and see with new eyes
When you are ready, take your camera and capture the photo that is in your mind. Think before you shoot
Ossian’s Quick Tips
Intro by Skip Cohen
Six months ago I had a chance to meet Ossian Lindholm in cyberspace. We share a common love for photography, education and the environment. Plus, that passion extends into the world of travel. Thanks to Travel Vision Journeys, these short tips are being reprinted from SkipCohenUniversity.com where Ossian has been a regular contributor each week with another gem from his skill set as an incredible artist.
One Image – Five Solid Tips – Photographing Hummingbirds
As a wildlife photographer I have learned the importance of always being ready. When the decisive moment comes along, you're not going to have time to think through anything except when to click the shutter.
Here I was at the perfect situation to shoot hummingbirds. There were at least three of them flying around me and a lot of beautiful cactus in bloom. If I hadn't been prepared I would have missed the shot.
So, what does it mean to be prepared and ready?
- Choose the correct lens, in this case a 500 mm and I had it on the camera body all ready to go.
- Set your camera in speed priority and select a high shutter speed: for a hummingbird not less that 1/1600 sec.
- Select the autofocus for this kind of situation: Continuous if you have a Nikon or AI Servo with Canon.
- Select a fast burst mode.
- Have your camera turned on, lens cap removed and be ready to photograph! Now, I just needed to wait for a hummingbird where I wanted him.
The Art of Travel Photography
Travel photography has such a broad definition. It's about people, landscapes, flowers, animals and some times even pulls in the world of macro photography. However, there's one universal common denominator, no matter what your subject matter, you have to be creative.
These images are from an estancia (ranch) in Patagonia, Argentina. It's called “Monte Dinero” very close to The Straits of Magellan. It was a cold, cloudy and windy day without a lot of colors and one of those days when you'd prefer to stay inside and read your favorite book in front of a fireplace. But if you are a photographer you feel the energy in your body, you ignore the bad weather and decide to challenge your creativity.
I was in front of a herd of sheep, and I thought to myself: good situation to play with a slow shutter speed and show the movement of the animals. No matter how many images you capture on a trip or a project, you should always leave time to experiment.
Just to bring a different look and get something out of a flat-light kind of day, I had a tripod with me and decided to slow things down and pick up the movement of the sheep in the bottom image. These two images were shot at 1/6 sec f16 at ISO 100.
While technically this is a tip on dragging the shutter, it's a plea for you never to stop experimenting. You're an artist. Your camera is your paintbrush, and your canvas is everything around you!
4 Simple Rules to Help your Composition
The Rule of the Horizon Line
This rule is great for composing landscapes. Understand that a photograph with the horizon line right in the middle will provoke indifference. However, putting the horizon line higher will center attention on the land, and putting the horizon line lower will give the sky center stage.
The Rule of The Gaze
The rule tells us that when we are taking a photograph, a person or an animal, we need to try to leave a space beyond the frame where they can fix their gaze
Rule of the Movement
Similar to the Rule of The Gaze, but in this case we need to leave a space beyond the frame to where the subject moves.
The Rule of Thirds
It entails dividing the frame of the photograph into a 3x3 grid. The points where the horizontal lines cross with the vertical lines are called power points.
The theory is that if you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines that your photo becomes more balanced and will enable a viewer of the image to interact with it more naturally. Studies have shown that when viewing images that people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points most naturally rather than the center of the shot – using the rule of thirds works with this natural way of viewing an image rather than working against it.
The Search for Texture
Whether you're an established pro or a serious hobbyist, we all have the same goal. Each of us are on a never-ending quest for the ultimate image. Each time we've got a camera in our hands, we're searching to isolate that one moment to set our work apart from everybody else's. We pay meticulous attention to lighting, exposure and composition, but so often we forget about texture.
Never miss the opportunity to bring texture into your images...and speaking of textures the dunes are the Superstars of the texture arena.
Here are a couple of simple things to remember, because just being at a dune some place on the planet isn't enough. In order to achieve that spectacular image you're in search of, for the dramatic image you hope to achieve, you've got to be there at sunrise. The horizontal light presents a pallet of shapes and shades in the waves on the sand. The fresh dust free morning air allows you to see even
Next, set your tripod up at a low angle, not more than 40 inches from the ground. Now, choose a wide angle lens and a good aperture to get a wide depth of field.
The dunes in the image above are in Cafayate, a place we typically visit during sunrise on the second day of our 9 day Travel Vision workshop in North West Argentina . The specs on the image were F8 at 1/30 sec with the camera set at ISO 100.
Wildlife and the Burst Mode
Just about every serious camera today has a burst mode for continuous shooting. Some of the higher end DSLRs will typically shoot 5-7 fps (frames per second). Set up and ready to go, when you press the shutter-release button the camera will take a burst of images.
When photographing wildlife I recommend you set your camera in the fastest shooting mode. While every situation is slightly different, this will allow you to capture moments that would normally go unnoticed by the naked eye. It also allows you to have a variety of images of a similar action. Plus, there's no such thing as too many images these days. We're all shooting digitally and "extra" images are easily edited out later on.
I was in front of a Buzzard Chested Eagle, which is one of the biggest eagles we have in Argentina. The eagle was on a rock not too far in front of me and I knew it was about to fly. My finger was poised on the shutter button, ready to capture the images. With the first movement of the eagle I started shooting.
There are five photos in the sequence. The camera I was using shoots 6 frames per second, making all of this action occurring in less than a second. Technology is constantly changing and today we have the most creative tools in the history of photography. These images would have been impossible to register if the camera wasn't set to shoot in a fast burst
Pay Attention to the Time of Day
As a landscape photographer it’s never enough to just be in the right place. You have to pay attention to the time of day as well. This is about investing time in your quest to capture the ultimate image.
This mountain is one of the most famous in South America, it is called the Fitz Roy and its eastern face is a wall of granite rock just under 6300 feet high. For climbers it is a regular challenge and is just as important for photographers. The Fitz Roy is one of those mountains you have to photograph on any trip to Patagonia.
Here we see it at dawn, noon and dusk. It’s all about personal taste, but for me the first one taken during morning sweet light is my favorite.
Don’t be afraid to return to great locations at different times of the day. The lighting on any landscape scene is constantly changing and giving you one creative option after another to capture outstanding images.
Varying the focal lengths you choose when photographing landscape settings is one of your most valuable tools. You’ve got the ability to capture multiple images of the same essential scene simply by changing focal lengths.
It’s also important to remember that persistence and patience will always pay off. I had already made multiple attempts to capture the image I wanted. It took me three times to finally get the images I wanted.
On the first morning I came, it began to rain. The second day the rain stopped, but now the mountain was covered with clouds. The third morning was the charm – I had the entire mountain in front of, my cameras and different focal length lenses.
When you get an opportunity for images like this you have to be ready to experiment and put in the time. That’s a big reason I always have a fairly full compliment of gear with me – I always want to be prepared for that one single moment when everything is right.
Everybody who’s been in this area knows that the Fitz Roy is a mountain often covered with clouds and so often photographed the same way by many artists. That’s the way so many images look, but I didn’t want just another image. So, I took a lot using different compositions and different focal lengths.
Here are two of my favorite images: The image on top was taken with a 300 mm tele and the one below, taken with a 35 mm lens at the same moment. Both lenses were mounted on 1.5x crop factor cameras.
It’s so important to take the time to capture exceptional scenes with different focal length lenses. Don’t be satisfied with any single image and take the time to capture whatever you see in your mind’s eye.
Trees, Black and White Photography and Backlighting
Sometimes you're walking around with your gear and you come across a situation like this one. It's just a tree, but you see the potential for a great image in your mind's eye. You say to yourself , "This is perfect for shooting HDR in Black and White with a wide angle lens".
The settings are different and with a scene like this you have time for a correct composition. There's no rush.
I put the camera on a tripod and I choose f 16 because I was looking for a deep Depth of Field. I set the camera on 100 ISO because I was looking for the best quality. I didn't mind a slower shutter speed since my subject wasn't moving. Plus, I was shooting with a tripod. Expecting to do an HDR image, I set the camera on auto-bracketing mode with +/- 1.0 EV.
Then I was ready to shoot the tree and sometimes nothing adds more drama than black and white.
Photography is light and some of your most beautiful images, just require understanding how to meter. The secret here was simply correct metering of the back light.
This is my favorite series of photos to explain the benefits of using the Manual exposure mode. This was before sunrise and the sky had a beautiful red color. I set my camera on Manual mode and pointing to the sky I metered the light : f 2.8 1/15 sec
Then, without changing that exposure value I took several photos.
The fun of photography and capturing images you love goes directly back to practice, practice, practice. Learn to experiment and get to know all the different shooting modes of your camera. Then, when something spectacular comes along you're ready to match your vision with your results.
I had so much fun with these two images and decided to add one more tip and talk about composition.
Tip #1 Clouds: Sometimes they are amazing. I love to use them to get a more interesting composition. While a beautiful clear blue sky means it's a gorgeous day outside, it doesn't bring very much impact to a landscape image. I'll always take a cloudy sky to photograph, rather than just a big blue background!
Tip #2 Use a polarizer, you will achieve a nicer blue and better contrast of the clouds against the sky. Polarizer filters are available for virtually every lens and should be a standard component in your camera bag.
Tip #3 Landscape photographs are almost always framed horizontally. However, I liked the feeling of the clouds in this image and they worked nicely with a vertical composition.
Just remember: situations will come up where you'll need a vertical photo. For example, the cover image of a book or magazine will almost always need to be a vertical.
But here's another instance I've enjoyed over the years - A vertical landscape breaks the monotony in a gallery showing or exhibition.